An eclectic array of new venues along the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown Las Vegas are helping planners develop creative events that take advantage of Nevada’s warm year-round weather and emerging districts. The concept aligns well with the growing trend toward interactive meeting design that moves attendees around a venue to create networking opportunities.
For example, the first-ever U.S. version of the legendary Rock in Rio festival took place this past May at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard near the SLS Las Vegas Hotel and Stratosphere Resort. MGM’s 34-acre Resorts Festival Grounds supported the event with permanent event facilities, AV hookups and an AstroTurf.
At the south end of the Strip, the newly named MGM Resorts Village, a 15-acre entertainment, sports and festival outdoor arena, hosted major events in the last year such as the iHeartRadio Music Festival, Route 91 Harvest Festival and Wine Amplified.
“I’m going to borrow something I heard from one of our meeting planner partners recently who said, ‘Our attendees have become much more pedestrian,’” says Chris Meyer, VP of global business sales for the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. “They want to move around as a group and individually—millennials and other people want more of a destination experience. That’s true on the leisure side and it’s certainly becoming more important on the meetings side.”
Nearby, MGM Resorts held a topping out ceremony for the new Las Vegas Arena, scheduled to open next summer. The 20,000-seat, $375 million venue, located between New York-New York Hotel & Casino and Monte Carlo Resort & Casino, will have 50 luxury suites and more than two dozen private boxes. Between the village and arena, planners will be able to create high-impact events incorporating indoor and outdoor environments on one master account.
“That is going to be huge for us when that opens, almost like L.A. Live was for Los Angeles,” says Meyer. “It will have integrated meeting space, customizable boxes and amazing technology, so that’s going to be a great experience for meetings and events.”
In the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, located between The LINQ Hotel & Casino and Flamingo Las Vegas, the open-air LINQ Promenade and adjacent High Roller observation wheel have been a big success for Caesars Entertainment and the LVCVA in terms of group bookings. Meyer says the LINQ’s proximity to outdoor event platforms, restaurants and private event space offers flexibility to host every imaginable type of event.
Last November, the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association automotive convention took place in Las Vegas. After the tradeshow, the organizers drove a bunch of high-end customized Porsches, Mustangs and Camaros down the Las Vegas Strip to the LINQ for an evening gala event with the High Roller lit up in the background.
“Groups have been using the LINQ for all sorts of activities, from MPI to General Motors,” says Meyer. “The possibilities really are endless for events there.”
And in August, The Venue opens in Downtown Las Vegas. The 40,000-sf facility was built for meetings and conventions, and Meyer says he’s expecting the new space to put the downtown core on more planners’ radar for 2016. Also anticipating a spike in group business, the downtown hotels just signed an agreement to create a unified package for multi-property bookings for one group.